Liberia’s Future Depends How The Children Are Treated

By Simon Reeves

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

February 17, 2004

George Weah on a UNICEF mission to Liberia last month apologized to the children for the suffering(civil war) brought on them by adults. I must take my hat off to the hero for doing the noble thing. He did what those responsible for sinking the country should, on their knees, be doing. Such outpouring of the heart can play a major role in healing the nation.

There are a lot of George Weahs who are convinced that it is a matter of national interest to nurture the country's future leaders. We all have a duty to untie the ropes with which NPFL, LURD,LPC, ULIMO, MODEL and other rebels have bound the children. The first thing to do is to openly admit that it was a serious failure to unleash a war in the country and subject the children to deep suffering.

This sincere apology must be followed by sincere actions. We have to prove to the children that what has been done to them will never happen again. This can be exemplified by what we do to release them from the state of
hopelessness that the war has created. Everyone must be involved. Everything must be done to bring salvation to the children. Liberia cannot afford to have a future dominated by ex-child soldiers without hope.

Liberian children suffered immensely during the last 14 years of mayhem. We cannot even imagine how much damage has been inflicted upon them, especially on those who were forced to fight. Their innocence were
brutally shattered by the lords of the guns. According to estimates, there are sadly about 15,000 children still under arms.

It is a good sign when one hears that many kids have returned to school. But we must not relent until all of them are back in the classroom. Child soldiers whose future are still being blocked by warlords must also be given the opportunity to get an education that will turn them into decent citizens. Child soldiers must be the first ones to be disarmed and demobilized.

We must never sweep under the carpet the significance of our children. Their welfare must play a central part in our thoughts and actions. We have to do this because they represent the future. In fact, they are the future. if we fail to do this, we can be assured that when the next group of misguided liberators or freedom fighters show up our children will be ready to fight again.

About the Author: Simon Reeves is a Liberian journalist and writer residing in Sweden.